Peeper is 3

It’s hard to believe that 3 years ago, my beautiful Peeper made me a mom.

I will never forget that day. Early that morning I woke with contractions. A bit later, Eric, my sister, Finn and I went for a hike. My water broke on the car ride home. At the hospital, I endured excruciating back labor that made me wild with fear. But just after 9pm, I met the tiny person who had grown from two joined cells to an entire person, and my life broke open in the most joyous way possible.

This preschooler is 3 years old and brings me so much joy. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Peeper’s third birthday marks a division in my life—a clear before and after. But she continues to rock my world every day we spend together. Read more

Make the most of new moms’ group

When Kiwi was three weeks old, I packed a diaper bag, strapped her into her car seat and drove to a nearby new moms’ group. I felt shockingly good for being just a few weeks postpartum. I had put on mascara. My nursing tank was clean. I felt ready to meet new people, build a village in a relatively new community and offer the wisdom I’d already gained, having done this whole newborn thing once before.

In the coming weeks and months, though, that I can do this! attitude crumbled under the weight of sleep deprivation, Kiwi’s silent reflux and my own postpartum depression.

In those months, the new moms’ group became a lifeline.

Joining a new moms' group can offer support, ideas and the amazing friendships that will last your kids' entire childhood. Here's how to make the most of it. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Why join a new moms’ group?

A friend of a friend who was expecting once scoffed at the idea of a new moms’ group. “Why would I ever pay to join a group where people would tell me what I already know?” she asked. I didn’t know her that well, so I kept my mouth shut.

But here, I’ll tell her what have gained going to a new moms’ group, both with Kiwi and Peeper. I got:

  • Unconditional support. My fellow mamas were there every week, and they listened to me no matter what.
  • Ideas. I have a new question nearly every week, from how to transition a baby out of a swaddle to how to make sure your cruiser doesn’t faceplant in the tub. Brainstorming ideas with a room full of experts—aka moms—gives me more tips to try.
  • A chance to help others. Especially now that Kiwi is older, we have been through much of what moms with younger babies are struggling with. I, then, can chime in with what worked for us.
  • A reason to get out of the house. Having a newborn can feel like living under house arrest. It feels good to leave the house—and even better if you get to interact with people other than the checkout lady at Target.

Joining a new moms' group offers a lifeline in one of the most challenging parts of your life. Here's how to make the most of it. Ten Thousand Hour MamaThe families you meet at new moms' group will become your village—and your baby's besties! Make the most of the group you join—here's how. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Win at new moms’ group

Not all new moms’ groups are the same, but I have been unspeakably fortunate to have found the communities within the moms’ groups for Peeper and Kiwi.

That said, it takes a little effort to make the most of a new moms’ group.

New moms group night out

Based on my experience, I offer these suggestions to connect deeply and build your village.

  1. Be vulnerable. Motherhood is not easy. No one expects you to be that uber together mom. (Does she even exist? I don’t really think so.) And, as the wonderful facilitator who runs my new moms’ group says, “Being vulnerable is a gift. By opening up, you allow others to be vulnerable, too.”
  2. Start a Facebook group. Crises always seem to strike at 3am, and having a place to vent/ask questions/post a picture of your baby’s weird poop—at any hour of the day—helps you stay sane.
  3. Don’t leave without getting someone’s number. Exchange numbers with at least one person each time you go to new moms’ group. Then don’t be shy to text.
  4. Keep a standing date. Every week after new moms’ group, a handful of mamas and babies go to lunch together. There’s no strict commitment—we attend as our schedules (and kids!) allow—but we know the option of grabbing a bite or heading out for a picnic is always on the table.
  5. Plan play dates. Every so often, one mom hosts a play date. The get-together gives our kids a chance to play/poke each other’s eyes and gives us a chance to catch up.
  6. Introduce your families. In new moms’ group, we see our mom friends and their tiny babies. Most of us have a partner, and some of us have older kids, too—none of whom come to group. Meeting the whole family, like we did for a holiday party and a giant brunch potluck, strengthens our ties. Some of the dads are becoming friends, too!

All the babies! Joining a new moms' group will build your village when you most need it. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

I’m still friends with many of the women I met during the new moms’ group I attended when Peeper was born. It’s been a beautiful experience watching their babies grow from tiny peanuts into preschoolers.

I feel so fortunate to have built this community—this village—of moms. But don’t take my word for it. If you have a new baby, test out a new moms’ group for yourself. It’s in your power to create a nurturing, supportive, loving and fun community to raise your baby—and yourself as a new mama.

Did you find a supportive community when you were a new parent?

Today I say no to mommy guilt

The internet is filled with blog posts just dripping with mommy guilt. These posts are about how a mom lost her temper, yelled or lost her patience or cried or otherwise acted imperfectly, then tearfully apologized to her kids. These posts are about moms trying to forgive themselves.

This is not one of those posts.

Today I say no to mommy guilt Read more

What my love is worth

preschooler love bed snugglesThe other morning I was sitting on the floor, playing with Kiwi. I snuggled in close to her, ruffling her downy hair with my nose.

“I love you,” I whispered.

Then I looked up at Peeper, who was drinking milk at the table.

“Psst,” I started. She looked at me. “I love you.”

Peeper set her glass down.

Now can I have a popsicle?”

And that’s how I know the value of my love: It is preschooler leverage to get dessert.

Guest post: Proud to be you

I am insanely excited to share with you the voice of my blogosphere friend Deborah Bryan. Deb and I e-met through a mutual friend a few years ago, and ever since I have felt a deep connection to her that belies the fact we’ve met in person only once before. 

Peeper and Littler J were much more interested in each other than Prince Puckler's ice cream!
Peeper and Littler J were much more interested in each other than Prince Puckler’s ice cream!

If you don’t already follow her, do yourself a solid and zip over to The Monster in Your Closet stat. Well, right after reading this.


Today you’re wearing a dress with a broken zipper.

That’s just like you.

Wait, that didn’t sound as nice as I meant it.

Let me start over.

Today you wore a lovely dress you haven’t been able to wear for a few months. You were delighted to see how pretty you look in it, but not so delighted when the zipper in back burst all the way to your waist while you leaned over to put on your toddler’s shoes two hours later.

“+%÷@#!” you thought, before deciding—a split second later—that the best immediate solution was to be thankful for your long sweater. You’ve used binder clips to deal with cleavage issues, but they’re harder to use for back wardrobe mishaps without a girlfriend close at hand. There were other options, of course, but this was the one you quickly determined best in light of the circumstances.

Thank goodness for long sweaters! Courtesy yours, you made it to work on time and looking fine.

Do you see the compliment yet? No?

Okay, I’m getting there! Read more

Don’t ask. Just help.

don't ask just helpWhen Kiwi was a few months old, a friend texted me.

“I’m coming over. Be there in 15.”

I was a little surprised—we’d met a month or two earlier in moms’ group, and our babies were mere weeks apart, so we didn’t know each other terribly well. I didn’t really know what to expect.

When she arrived, I welcomed her into my home, trying not to think of the dog hair tumbleweeds and last night’s dinner-coated dishes still on the counter.

“I’m here to guerrilla help,” she said, stepping inside. “You never take me up on my offers to help. But here I am.”

She set down her baby, who was sleeping in her car seat, and asked if I’d rather she do a load of laundry or scrub my shower.

Seriously.

She ended up bouncing Kiwi, who woke up from a two-minute nap and refused to go back to sleep. But that was a bigger help than battling shower scum to a harried, exhausted, desperate mother who spent nearly every minute of the day trying to get a baby to sleep.

My friend did something special that day. She rescued me from one more attempt to bounce my baby to sleep—the time that may have pushed me over the edge. She let me know I wasn’t alone. She showed up when even I didn’t know I needed her. She lived what should be the international mother’s motto: Don’t ask. Just help.  Read more

Kiwi is 10 months: Time to play

baby play trampolineThis month, someone must have hit the “play” button on Kiwi, because she just can’t stop playing! (Ok sorry, terrible pun.)

One day, I put a plastic cup on top of my head. (Why? No idea. Seemed natural at the time.) It fell off. And Kiwi nearly fell over, she was laughing so hard. She made a game of it: She’d hand me a random object for me to balance on my head then giggle uncontrollably when it toppled off.

My favorite game? After she finishes nursing, Kiwi faceplants on my bare belly and blows raspberries. The first time she did it, Eric had to stop what he was doing in the other room to check on us because I was laughing so hard.

Her favorite game is chase. She’ll crawl away from me then pause, peeking behind her to see if I’m following. When I come after her, she squeals in delight and motors away—until I catch her. As I tickle her belly and nibble her cheeks, she surrenders in a fit of laughter—until setting off again.

10 months play crawling

The bruises on my knees from crawling on hardwood and the drool-covered belly barely register. She is happy and I am happy.

I’m even more grateful for this ease of play for both of us because our time together wasn’t always this carefree. In Kiwi’s early months, everything was hard. She cried, and I cried, and neither of us smiled all that much. She was in pain and I was unhappy. On the worst days I had to force myself to play with her—singing nursery rhymes or doing This Little Piggy on her prehensile toes—even though I felt no joy.

The contrast to today is striking—like walking out of a dark movie theater into a July day, it’s almost blinding in its brilliance. Now Kiwi can light me up, and her smile sparks a glow within me that grows with every tickle fest and game of airplane.

baby dog playing

baby play toy carBaby's first taste of apple I thought of her recently when listening to NPR’s TED Radio Hour. The hour-long show explored the benefits of play. The experts made me realize that when I get down on all fours to crawl-chase Kiwi, or when we do pattacake, or when I have puppets act out a scene from Downton Abbey, I’m growing, too.

Putting me in closer connection with my own inner child is just one more gift Kiwi is giving me. As she plays, so do I, and we’re both better off—and happier—for it.